The event will probably be remembered for the dropped orange balloon and the fallen knight figurine

By Peter Mikelbank
November 19, 2018 04:35 PM
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Boy or girl, prince or princess, we’ve all had those small, unintentional moments which our families will repeat to our embarrassment for decades to come.

Monaco’s royal twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques attended their third National Day celebration on Monday. The day included a military parade, plumed marching bands and cheers from adoring crowds — but for the pair, who turn 4 on Dec. 10, the event will probably be remembered for the dropped orange balloon and the fallen knight figurine.

After a cold morning ceremony in the palace courtyard and a cathedral mass (which the children did not attend), the principality’s national holiday turned to the palace balcony where Monaco has been saluting its Sovereign’s Day since 1857. It’s doubtful, however, if the tradition, dating back to the reign of Charles III, on the palace balcony has ever been as crowded…or as much fun.

“Princess Jacques and Princess Gabriella are just coming to the right age now,” one insider tells PEOPLE. “They have this delight in things. They’re able now to participate in the pageantry. Clearly they enjoyed themselves today.”

Credit: Arnold Jerocki/Getty
Credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Besides Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, wearing a short black and brown checked wool coat from Akris, and their two children, those watching the ceremonies were rewarded with views of no less than four of Princess Caroline’s grandchildren, including a brief glimpse of Andrea Casiraghi’s 7-month-old son, Maximilien.

But the show clearly belonged to Princess Gabriella. From the moment a step stool was placed out on the balcony so she and he brother could see — and be seen — above the balustrade, she put on a royal performance.

Dressed in a red robe, the young royal danced and rocked along to the music. She waved to the crowds and ate cookies. Until the moment her father descended the palace stairs to review the troops, when the small orange balloon she had been entertaining herself with all morning slipped from her hand and fell to the courtyard below.

Princess Charlene and Princess Gabriella
| Credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Gabriella’s expression as the balloon sailed downward, a mix of surprise and concern, captured on camera, earned its deserved replay. Then a close-up, another replay and eventually its own replay in slow motion. The balloon, in fact, won internet celebrity until it was finally brought under control by a minister of state.

Reassured, Gabriella resumed her performance, enjoying the spectacle and becoming especially intrigued and when a marching band exhibiting one of their latest numbers launched into “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons.

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Prince Albert, Prince Jacques, Princess Gabriella and Princess Charlene
| Credit: Arnold Jerocki/Getty
Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques
| Credit: Arnold Jerocki/Getty

Her brother, occupied with toy action figure of a knight in armor, seemed not to notice. However, Prince Jacques enthusiastically banged his knight on the balcony in time to the cheers as National Day ended with its tradition of crowds advancing towards the palace with rounds of “hip hip hooray.”

Jacques’ toy slipped from his hand and fell to the crowd below. His look of dismay moved his mother to offer a reassuring cuddle. After several long moments, both the youngsters returned assumed to the railing offering waves and kisses to the crowds.